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Observation
What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.

YOU ARE OBSERVING

Intestine Hanging Out through Wound or Incision

Summary

The exposure of intestines outside of the abdominal cavity (evisceration), can occur after castration, as a result of the failure of an abdominal incision (after abdominal, usually colic surgery), or as a result of a severe wound that penetrates the body wall.

Post-castration evisceration is a very rare but potential complication associated with this routine procedure. Following colic surgery, evisceration is a rare complication that usually occurs during recovery or when the incision is damaged during the early stage of healing. Evisceration can also result when a horse impales itself on posts or rails.

As expected, evisceration is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate veterinary assistance. Horses that have intestine contaminated by coming in contact with the ground generally have a very poor prognosis, even with aggressive treatment. Aggressive surgery can sometimes save these horses if rapid action is taken.

YOUR ROLE

While you wait for your vet keep your horse calm and still. You may protect the exposed intestine by gently cradling it with a large, wet, clean towel. Note, however, that this can be dangerous because the horse will be stressed and in pain and may panic. Your vet may instruct you to give your horse medication, if possible.

YOUR VET'S ROLE

Your vet will assess the horse's state, the state of the intestine, and your own desires, and discusses your options. If repair is to be attempted, it will require damage control, the intestine may be rinsed and then securely slung and protected in a moist cloth and rapid transport to an equine surgical hospital. In many cases, it may be impossible to replace the intestine in the abdomen in the field.
  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

your role

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What To Do

What Not To Do

Do not attempt to push the intestine back in unless your vet has advise you to do so.

your vet's role

Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Does your horse seem normal otherwise?
  • Do you know when this occurred?
  • Was your horse recently castrated?
  • Did your horse recently undergo abdominal surgery?
  • Did your horse have an accident?
  • Can you safely cradle and protect the intestine until I arrive?
  • Can I have your location and directions to get to you as soon as possible?

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP